Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Substance restrictions and battery labelling

Chemicals in batteries and labelling of batteries

If you manufacture or import batteries with the intention of placing them on the market, you must meet certain requirements that restrict the use of cadmium and mercury and set out how batteries should be labelled.

What you must do

Substance restrictions

If you place batteries on the market you must ensure that they comply with the substance restrictions for cadmium and mercury. You must not place on the market:

  • any battery that contains more than 0.0005 per cent (5 parts per million) of mercury by weight.
  • any portable battery that contains more than 0.002 per cent of cadmium by weight - this does not apply to portable batteries intended for use in emergency and alarm systems including emergency lighting, medical equipment or cordless power tools. The exemption for power tools ended on 1 January 2017.

Capacity labelling

After 30 May 2012, if you place on the market either:

  • Portable secondary (rechargeable)
  • Automotive batteries and accumulators

you must include a label indicating the capacity of the battery or accumulator. This must be done in a visible, legible and inedible form and comply with the requirements of the Capacity Labelling Regulation (EU) No 1103/2010.

It does not apply to batteries and accumulators that are incorporated, or are designed to be incorporated, into appliances and are not intended to be removed by the end user.

Using the crossed out wheeled bin symbol

If you place batteries on the market you must label them with a crossed out wheeled bin symbol, which tells users that they should be recycled rather than thrown in a bin and sent to landfill. If the batteries are too small to be labelled, you must print the symbol on the packaging. The regulations set out specific dimensions for the marking of batteries and packaging with the symbol.

File:WEEE symbol vectors.svg

Using appropriate chemical symbols

If you place batteries on the market you must label them with the appropriate chemical symbol or symbols beneath the crossed out wheeled bin symbol:

  • any button cell containing more than 0.0005 per cent of mercury by weight must be marked with the chemical symbol 'Hg' below the crossed out wheeled bin symbol
  • any battery containing more than 0.002 per cent of cadmium by weight must be marked with the chemical symbol 'Cd' below the crossed out wheeled bin symbol
  • while there is no restriction on the use of lead in batteries, any battery containing more than 0.004 per cent of lead by weight must be marked with the chemical symbol 'Pb' below the crossed out wheeled bin symbol.

The chemical symbol is intended to show that one of the restricted materials is present in the battery, not the amount of that material. The regulations set out specific dimensions for the marking of batteries and packaging with the symbol.

Removability of waste batteries from appliances

If you place appliances on the market that contain batteries, or are designed to incorporate batteries, you must ensure that:

  • the appliance is designed so that a waste battery can be readily removed from it
  • instructions are included showing how the battery can be removed safely and, where appropriate, informing the end user of the type of battery incorporated.

This requirement does not apply where, for safety, performance, medical or data integrity reasons, continuity of power supply is necessary and a permanent connection is required between the appliance and the battery.

Further information

GOV.UK: Producer responsibilities – materials, labelling, design and enforcement

ROHS regulations

Capacity Labelling Regulation (EU)

In this Guideline

Businesses affected by the batteries regulations

Identifying different battery types

Substance restrictions and battery labelling

Industrial and automotive battery producers responsibilites

Portable battery producers responsibilities

Portable batteries: distributor and retailer responsibilities

How end users can recycle batteries

Treating or recycling waste batteries

Exporting waste batteries

Battery compliance scheme operators responsibilities

Batteries: Environmental legislation

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